Of all the race reports I’ve written over the last eleven years, this one is rather different – there will be no words of nerves on the start line, no tales of ill-advised sprints in the opening third of the race, only to crumble into a humiliating limp towards the end, no accounts of heroic charges through the field in the final kilometre, overtaking all and sundry, no anecdotes of little Jonny getting lost in the car park and ending up on the wrong school bus heading for Harrow…
For this was a virtual race, completed by a total of 27 Shrewsbury School pupils (and nine teachers) around a cross-country route chosen by themselves, covering a distance of 3km. We were up against Bradfield College, who we had not competed against directly before, either virtually or in any other fashion. We are so grateful for the opportunity to put on the RSSH vest and get out onto some cross-country and feel part of some competition!
As the results gradually started dripping in through Saturday and Sunday, it was clear that many of our pupils have been keeping themselves in impressive shape during the lockdown – shunning the attractions of sofa and cake, they have clearly been maintaining a decent level of training, as their times will testify. Five of our runners managed a time of under 11 minutes over 3km of cross-country which – as someone who laboured round in 14:08 will tell you – is an impressive achievement! A further seven of our runners ran under 12 minutes.
When all results were in and we were able to compare with the Bradfield times, it became clear that we had managed not only to field significantly more runners – so huge congratulations and thank-yous to everyone for getting out there and clocking a time – but also that we had managed to complete our various courses rather more quickly on average. Bradfield had a total of six girls running (we had nine), and fielded 12 boys (we fielded 18). Across the top six girls’ times, our girls were faster by a total of 6 minutes and 31 seconds. Among the boys, our top twelve fastest runners completed their efforts an aggregate of 25 minutes 52 seconds faster than Bradfield’s – a sterling effort!
There were also some individual performances very worthy of attention – Jack’s time of 11:02 placed him in silver-medal-winning position among the U14 boys, with Dom’s 11:19 worthy of bronze. Sophia C took silver in the U14 girls with a time (in the altitude of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, it’s worth noting) of 12:54. Our U16 boys took the top three positions, with an excellent run from Brad in 10:08 claiming gold, in what was actually the fastest time of the day by anyone. Tim’s 10:30 – also at altitude – was enough for silver, while Hamish – chasing his dad round Top Common – posted 11:33 for third. Sophia U was fastest in the U16 girls with 12:20, while Eva Hall took second in 14:32. Huntsman Oscar won the U18 race in 10:18, ahead of Alfie’s superb effort of 10:27. Chessie took the gold in the girls’ U18 race with 10:46, showing she’s still in excellent form, while Georgie Nicholas managed 3rd place with 13:58. Our staff also managed to beat Bradfield’s, with the quickest runner Mr Middleton completing his effort in 10:46 (neck-and-neck with Chessie!).
Thanks to everyone who completed their course – we hope to have another of these in the second half of term with a few more schools invited, so hopefully the level of competition will be even higher.
IPH, Master in Charge of The Hunt